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The wife of the radiologist who drove Tesla off a cliff with her family inside said she did it ‘on purpose,’ documents reveal


May 19, 2023

The wife of the California radiologist accused of intentionally driving her Tesla off a 330-foot cliff with her and their two young children inside earlier this year has told authorities she plunged off the cliff «on purpose,» documents show. recently revealed.

Dr. Dharmesh Patel, 41, was charged with three counts of attempted murder, accused of running off Pacific Coast Highway and jumping off a cliff on Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County on January 2. He pleaded not guilty in February.

Miraculously, they all survived. The two young children were 7 and 4 years old at the time.

Case documents unsealed Wednesday show Patel’s wife told authorities multiple times that he deliberately jumped off a cliff.

She told a paramedic helping get the family out of the crushed vehicle that Patel had «drived off the road on purpose,» according to the file. «She repeated this several times.»

Court documents said Patel was next to her and was coherent but «wouldn’t say anything unless spoken to.»

A second paramedic at the crash site said Patel’s wife was very concerned for the safety of their children. She told that paramedic that «the defendant drove the vehicle off the cliff on purpose and that he was trying to kill all of them,» according to the documents. “She said this approximately three times,” the paramedic added.

Patel’s wife also told a California Highway Patrol officer: “He left. He is depressed. He’s a doctor. He said that he was going to throw himself off the cliff. He left on purpose.»

The highway patrol also interviewed witnesses who saw the Tesla before it went off the cliff.

Two witnesses reported that the Tesla «accelerated» as it traveled toward the cliff, and neither witness said the driver tried to brake before plummeting off the cliff, according to the documents.

A nearby security camera also captured the moment the Tesla plunged off the cliff. It showed the Tesla traveling within the lines of the highway, slowing down and turning right toward the cliff.

“The Tesla then gradually turns to the right, plunging down the cliff. There are no indications of attempts to brake or turn the Tesla in a different direction,” the filing reads.

The unsealed documents also shed light on what Patel said about the accident.

When interviewed at the hospital, he «stated that he had stopped to check his tire pressure, which Tesla indicated was low that morning,» the documents say.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Thursday that «we do not believe that Mr. Patel’s statement is consistent with the facts.»

The open files also showed that when investigators asked Patel if he was depressed, he replied «not really.» But he said that he felt depressed by «the war, the drugs and the crazy things».

The filing says officers spoke with Patel’s family. Her sister said that she spoke to Patel the night before and recalled that she was «sad about the war and other things that were happening in the news.» She said he was concerned about «the future of his children because of everything that’s going on in the world,» she said, according to the documents.

Authorities responding to the crash were surprised to discover that there were survivors in the severely damaged vehicle.

Cal Fire officials said it was incredibly «rare» for someone to survive such a steep fall. One expert described the family’s survival as «sort of a miracle, considering the severity of the impact.»

The white Tesla Model Y was visibly crushed on all sides after it was ejected from Devil’s Slide, about 20 miles south of San Francisco, on the morning of January 2.

The car flipped over and landed on its wheels. Firefighters had to scale to the scene, get the family out and call for helicopters to take them to safety.

The unsealed files said Patel’s wife was hospitalized in critical condition, and that she was in the hospital for more than a month before being released to an outside treatment center.

His daughter suffered a broken hand and his son a wound to the back of the head, according to the documents. Once the children were released, they were placed in the care of the defendant’s sister.

Patel is due back in court on June 12 for a preliminary hearing. Two of the three counts of attempted murder include special charges of domestic violence and attempted to cause grievous bodily harm.

At the hearing, a judge will determine whether the prosecution’s evidence supports the attempted murder charges, Wagstaffe said.

In February, Patel’s lawyer, Joshua Bentley, told a judge that Patel’s wife did not want him to be prosecuted. youThe San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Wagstaffe said Thursday that Patel’s wife spoke to police after the accident and that «the next time she will speak on the matter will be at the preliminary hearing.»

Emails and calls to Patel’s attorney went unanswered Thursday. No one answered a cell phone number listed on Patel’s Thursday.

CORRECTION (May 19, 2023 8:30 am ET): An earlier version of this article misrepresented the status of family members after the accident. They were wounded, not uninjured.